Transporters’ body AIMTC has sought financial help for the oxygen tanker transporters to meet the treatment cost of the drivers affected by coronavirus, either by the government or oxygen manufacturers, according to a statement. At a virtual conference, convened by the commerce ministry on Saturday, the All India Motors Transport Congress (AIMTC) also urged the government to allow free mobility along with provision of food and water for oxygen tanker drivers on RO-RO (Tankers on Rail and Air), AIMTC Core Committee Chairman Bal Malkit Singh said in a statement issued in the late Saturday evening.
The meeting, chaired by Commerce and Industry Joint Secretary Sureshkumar Nair, was called to address issues for seamless transportation of oxygen in the country amid its acute shortage in the wake of second wave of COVID-19, AIMTC said.
Besides Nair, oxygen manufacturers such as Linde, Inox and UPL, transporters and other stakeholders, including Indian Chemical Council, Road Safety Council and AIMTC also participated in the meeting, it said.
“During the last lockdown, immunity of the truck drivers was not affected. However, since this time drivers are going into the rural parts of the country, some of them are testing positive every day.
“The transporters are spending Rs 3-3.5 lakh on the treatment of each driver in case he is tested positive for COVID-19,” said Singh.
“So, we have demanded financial assistance to meet this cost,” he said.
Besides, AIMTC on behalf of the tanker transporters also raised other issues concerning the industry, he said.
The government should allow free mobility along with provision of food and water for oxygen tanker drivers on RO-RO (Tankers on Rail and Air). Fixed cost should be paid to the transporters on a per-kilometre-running-per-month basis (as in normal times) in consultation with the stakeholders, Singh said in the statement. There is a need for timely payment, rewards, incentives, and financial help to the transporters engaged in the oxygen supply chain by the manufactures, he said.
Other issues such as the need to address the fear factor among the drivers by conducting periodic counselling sessions, priority vaccination of the drivers, and COVID-19 insurance cover for them, among others, were also raised at the meeting, AIMTC said.
The government extended its support for hazardous goods bridge training for heavy commercial vehicle drivers and providing trained drivers for driving oxygen tankers, it said.